Student News Media Combine to Form ‘Fourth Estate’

By Frances Womble

4thestateIn keeping with the changing landscape of journalism, George Mason University’s student newspaper, Broadside, and the student-run news website, Connect2Mason (C2M), are merging to create Fourth Estate. Fourth Estate will consist of a weekly printed newspaper and daily online content.

According to Frank Muraca, executive editor, the staffs of Broadside and C2M sat down at the end of last semester to evaluate where they were and where they wanted to be in the future.

“We both had the same idea that a merger made the most sense,” says Colleen Wilson, editor-in-chief. “Before, we used resources separately and often wrote stories twice. It was very confusing for readers. It’s time for a change.”

According to Muraca, a rising junior majoring in economics, Fourth Estate will employ approximately 20 paid student editors on staff, as well as more volunteer writers.

“Creation of Fourth Estate in student media is timely and relevant,” says Todd Rose, associate dean of University Life. “As the number of platforms to provide media coverage continues to grow, organizations with multiple successful platforms make wise decisions on how best to organize and deliver their content.  The student edited media outlets at Mason have been considering options for quite some time, and this realignment makes good sense. It enhances the contributions they make while not creating unnecessary internal competition for content.”

This is not the first time student media has undergone changes. In fall 1969, the student newspaper, The Gunston Ledger, was renamed Broadside to refer to the broadsheets of the Revolutionary War.

“At the time of the name change, there was a revolutionary feel across college campuses, but I don’t think we are still looking for that same reaction,” says Wilson, a rising senior majoring in communication.

The term “fourth estate” was originally coined by philosopher Edmund Burke in reference to the news media being the fourth seat in the system of governmental checks and balances.

“Our goal is to be the extra branch in the Mason community,” says Wilson.

“We wanted to find a name that would have a lasting role on campus,” says Muraca.

For more information, please visit the Fourth Estate website.